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Renewable incentives will favor biomass, biogas over wind, solar  

Credit:  By Thomas Content of the Journal Sentinel, www.jsonline.com 16 April 2012 ~~

The state Focus on Energy program will target its renewable energy funding toward biomass and biogas technologies, leaving fewer dollars available for wind energy and solar projects.

The Public Service Commission set a funding level of $10 million a year to provide incentives for renewable energy projects. But most of the 2012 budget has been committed to projects that were awarded incentives last year.

As a result, less than $3 million remains available to be awarded this year.

The commission decided to allocate three-fourths of funds to biomass and biogas projects, and one-fourth to wind and solar.

The commission decision came after a review of the renewables program by the new vendor that operates the Focus on Energy program.

Supporters of renewable energy had been urging the commission to allow more funding for renewable projects, after funding for renewable energy was suspended by Focus on Energy last year.

The funding suspension took place because of heavy demand for incentives from companies looking to add renewable energy.

Phil Montgomery, the commission’s chairman, said in a statement that placing an emphasis on biomass and biogas is important for the state’s agricultural and forest products industries.

“The new mix in the Focus on Energy program recognizes where our state’s strengths in renewables are,” he said.

Focus on Energy runs energy efficiency and renewable energy programs statewide that are overseen by the PSC. About $100 million in annual funding comes from electricity ratepayers through a surcharge on electric bills, with 10% of it targeted for renewable programs.

The Focus on Energy program provides savings for energy customers, delivering $2.30 in savings for every $1 spent, a Legislative Audit Bureau report last year found.

Energy efficiency projects deliver more savings than renewable energy projects, so the commission decided to set that return of investment  – 2.3-to-1 – as a benchmark for the program going forward.

Source:  By Thomas Content of the Journal Sentinel, www.jsonline.com 16 April 2012

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